Where to Drink Now
Where to Drink Now: 11 new Houston bars just right for spring sipping and lounging around
Just like its restaurants, Houston’s bar scene is ever-changing, and the last several months have brought a number of exciting openings all across the city. From small neighborhood dives to polished hotel bars, a new bar exists for just about every taste.
We visited 11 of the hottest places that have opened up in the past six months or so. Surely, even the most seasoned drinker can find a new favorite among this diverse list.
Perched discretely above Pastry War, only a small symbol on a door in the rear of the downtown tequila bar gives any indication that Bobby Heugel and Peter Janke’s new project is even there. This intimate, service oriented, 25-seat bar is inspired by the travels of Heugel and Janke, and sets out to create the perfect environment to enjoy exceptionally-made cocktails with thoughtful details like metal straws and complimentary bar snacks. Whether a customer sits near the fireplace or posts up at the bar, sipping on cocktails such as the classic Daiquiri No.4, the Rusty Nail (a twist on the classic that uses three Scotches: Johnnie Walker Black, Glenmoragnie 10 year, and Highland Park 12 year), or the Preakness while a jazz soundtrack plays in the background creates the ideal drinking experience.
The 86 Hospitality Group recently opened Rose Gold with a craft cocktail menu created by veteran bartenders Ben Baxter and Luis Villegas. Baxter describes the concept as “club meets craft” where patrons will find 24 cocktails on tap and several options that cater to parties for sharing. Popular drinks such as the Smoke on the Bayou, False Idols (mango infused vodka, passion fruit, lemon, and orange), and Main St. Swizzle will win the crowd over while dancing the evening away in this aptly decorated Rose Gold den.
Craft Beer Cellar
Lovers of craft beer will delight in this 5,200-square foot beer haven in downtown with over 800 beers to choose from. Part retail store and part bar, Craft Beer Cellar allows patrons to create their own six-pack, offers 52 taps for beer, and has created an environment that facilitates conversation while drinking select beers and playing games with friends. Whether the preference is to drink a Dragonsmilk (bourbon barrel aged stout) or a Tasty AF (a peanut butter stout that just won the Houston Beer Bracket), craft beers will find plenty of options for Untappd app check-ins. The recent addition of a menu created by the Wokker food truck makes it a lunch and dinner option, too.
Lil Danny Speedo’s Go Fly A Kite Lounge
This Second Ward/East End neighborhood hangout is a bar for everyone with a rotating beer selection at a great price point to match. As the name implies (it was created as a joke amongst the owners to see who could make each other laugh and the name stuck), this bar is literally “whatever you need it to be” and is a welcomed reflection of the diversity of Houston. Owners/friends Roy Mata, Camella Clemments, and Houston bar legend Brad Moore are serving up some of their favorite beers like the Real Ale Gose and selections from nearby 8th Wonder Brewery (it added a full liquor license this week, too). The unassuming environment, knowledgeable staff, and great music played from a well-curated jukebox will lead to inevitable comparisons with Moore's legendary Big Star Bar, but what could be bad about that?
Lilly & Bloom
Mike Gonzalez and Bill Bedner have created a drink menu that is light and refreshing as well as dark and boozy at this Main Street bar that occupies the historic Raphael Building. The name signifies a time during the Prohibition era when establishments displayed a flower in its window to show that it was “special” (meaning there was alcohol). The Helena Knife Fight, a deliciously smoky mezcal cocktail inspired by a time Gonzalez ate six incredibly spicy Carolina Reapers peppers, gin based Lilly’s Rovo, and the lighter vodka based Roborant are three standout cocktails that are sure to leave a lasting memory while reveling in this bar dedicated to days gone by.
Field & Tides
This Heights restaurant is already earning raves for chef Travis Lenig's Southern-inspired cuisine, but the bar led by beverage director Monique Hernandez deserves attention, too. Hernandez has created a menu of drinks that are approachable and classic in an environment that is airy and welcoming. The First Cut (a spin on the classic Manhattan) and the mezcal-based El Vaquero have been favorites among patrons in the short time that this restaurant has been open. Expect to also find a well-selected list of wines and beers to enjoy on the spacious patio.
Bayou & Bottle
Downtown's Four Seasons Hotel recently debuted its swanky new bourbon lounge just in time for Super Bowl LI. Created by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, Bayou & Bottle features over 100 different types of bourbons and whiskeys, along with 18 whiskey lockers for lease (only four remain), a Top Golf simulator, and weekly complimentary bourbon tastings to highlight the well-crafted menu. The vodka-based 11 Week Ride, the Huntsman (craftily made with Scotch and Rooibos tea smoke), and the Dr Pepper Old Fashioned offer suitably boozy rewards to anyone who visits. Grabbing a seat and enjoying a drink on the patio or sinking into the plush leather couches makes for a fitting reward after a long day at the office.
Take in the sights of Discovery Green from Houston Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio’s new sports bar in downtown's luxurious Marriott Marquis hotel. Proudly boasting the tag of “Not your average sports bar,” Biggio’s proves that everything really is bigger in Texas with a larger-than-life bar and enough screens to keep every sports fan happy. The drink menu is a home run with plenty of beer selections and cocktails such as the Galveston Breeze and Root n’ Rye that will make it easier to cheer the home team to victory.
As Thomas Edison once said, Tthere’s a way to do it better, find it.” At Edison, that motto inspires the restaurant's goal to create a better place where everyone from business people to hipsters can come together and enjoy a great beverage. With their signature cocktail The Edison and the namesake light bulbs, this bar is a haven that sparks conversations and good times in a warm environment. Chef Michael Sanguinetti has created delicious and creative menu that pairs well with the reasonably priced cocktails.
This small, family-friendly bar owned by Paul Redmond offers tons of personality in an unpretentious, no frills environment. Solid cocktails, a pet-friendly patio, and food trucks are part of the appeal at this chill neighborhood hangout. A rotating selection of over 20 beers, an expertly made Old Fashioned, and boozy coffee beverages offer something for everyone to enjoy. Grab a seat at the bar, meet a new friend, and see where the night leads!
A little bit of Midtown has made its way to Shady Acres in the form of this TV-filled sports bar. A seat on their popular swings will make the experience more fun while hanging with friends and drinking one of their many beers or cocktails on tap. Drinks like the One Time At Band Camp (tequila, blood orange liqueur) or the Hot Eff The Press (cucumber vodka, Licor 43) ensure fun times will be had while kicking it here.